Malankara World Journal Focus: The Myth of Jesus' Marriage
Volume 2 No. 101 September 28, 2012
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Recently there was a news of a discovery of a piece of papyrus, about the size
of a business card, purportedly from the 4th century AD that had two
controversial words, hitherto not reported anywhere else: "Jesus said to them,
'My wife' " (The professor who presented it admitted that there is a more than
likelihood that this is a fake. No carbon dating to prove the age was done and
it had all the hallmarks of a fake creation.)
However, this news has taken the whole media into a storm. (They must be tired of inventing news myths of Obama being the chosen one; so this provided a welcome relief. They all know that they can talk of any rubbish about Jesus and Christianity and no one will blink an eye. If it was anything about Islam, Dr. King would have been in hiding now or missing a few of her body parts like what happened to the professor from Newman's College near Perumbavoor some time ago.)
Is there any substance to this? Is Christianity about to implode like they suggest?
This issue of Malankara World Journal examines this question in depth. We have provided 3 articles from real scholars who examined this issue.
I would like to add a few personal comments from the perspective of an ignorant layman.
First, does any of these people realize how insignificant is a manuscript that was prepared 400 years after Jesus walked on the earth (especially when authentic documents prepared by eye witnesses are already available.)? In those days, there were no computers, cloud storage, or even paper storage. Traditions were passed from person to person by word of mouth. Gnostics were busy creating new stories every day. If you write something today about the finer aspects of William Shakespeare in an autobiography, how much credibility should we give to that account? ( I am talking about something that was never reported earlier.)
Second, the media seems to give undue importance to this work because it came from a Professor in Harvard Divinity School. Everyone in Harvard are not brilliant. There are exceptional scholars and mediocre ones there. Some schools like the Business school or Medical School in Harvard are very good. But many others like the liberal arts and the divinity school are of questionable merit. So, don't give higher value to what Dr. King presented because she is from Harvard Divinity School. Judge based on its merits. I am sure if Dr. King is with Sugarcreek Divinity School, no one would have heard about this work. From what I read in comments in Internet, Dr. King did a major disservice to Harvard and the Ivy League Schools with this publication purely for publicity. (naming it Gospel of Jesus' Wife? Give me a break.
Third, Jesus often referred to the church as His bride. It is all over the bible. If He had a wife, it is us, the body of the Christ; not a fictional character invented by the author of DaVinci Code for money.
Finally, just for the argument sake, what if Jesus was married and had a wife? Does that change the core faith of Christianity?
The underlying faith of Christianity is the Nicene Creed.
We believe that Jesus was the son of God. He is the second person of Trinity.
He came down from heaven, born of virgin Mary, was crucified, died, buried, and on the third day he rose from the dead (resurrection).
What distinguishes Christianity is that we have a resurrected God, who has won over the death. He paid for our sins.
It does not make any difference whether Jesus had brothers or sisters; whether he consumed bottled water; and as a radical Islam Imam screamed about Jesus in Pakistan, " Jesus went to bathroom in the bushes." (He cannot imagine God relieving in the bushes.) . It also does not make any difference if St. Helena found the "true" Cross. These things will not materially change the main faith of Christianity one iota. There is creed and then there are traditions that become dogma.
The Christianity is characterized by faith. Faith is something we believe in without seeing it; it is not something that can be proven by scientific methods (No double blind and Gold Standard). If it can be proven scientifically without any question, we do not need faith to believe in it! Our sacraments are shrouded in mystery. Jesus talked in parables. Bible is full of symbolism (especially the Gospel of John and Revelation) and cannot be taken literally. Here are a few courtesy of a commenter from Internet:
Another person commented:
So if we happened to discover that Jesus was indeed married, would that in some way diminish the message of his teachings? Would Christianity implode?
"It matters not the least to me whether Jesus was married, single, widowed, divorced, in a civil union, or played the banjo. I do strongly suspect that if he were to return today he would once again banish the money changers from the temples, and be most disappointed in how many poor there are, with little else but to look to him for solace. We would have some explaining to do."
I rest my case.
Dr. Jacob Mathew
This Sunday in Church
Third Sunday after Sleebo/ the Feast of Holy Cross
Before Holy Qurbana
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.
This Week's Features
|Inspiration for Today|
If you're too proud
Don't be surprised
by Andy, Bible Gateway Blog
Was Jesus married? What would it mean if he was?
Although these aren't new questions, lots of people are discussing them in the wake of this month's unveiling of an ancient text fragment that contains a possible reference to a married Jesus.
I can't think of a better place to turn to for answers than Christian author and apologist Lee Strobel, who tackled this very question in his Investigating Faith newsletter this week. Here's his response to a reader who asked him about this much-discussed topic:
Question: People are asking me if Jesus ever had a wife. I say no. But there are some who think he did. I need your advice! - Kellie
Lee's Response: This issue has surfaced again because of the discovery of a purported fourth-century Egyptian papyrus in Coptic that quotes Jesus as referring to a wife. However, that discovery is fraught with problems. The fragment is smaller than a business card, so we don't know its context or even its genre. The fragment hasn't been fully authenticated yet - for example, no ink tests have been performed - and some experts are debating whether it may be a forgery. Most importantly, if it's from the fourth century, it comes so long after the life of Jesus that it lacks historical credibility. The scholar who announced the finding, Karen L. King of Harvard, has repeatedly stressed that the papyrus is not evidence that Jesus was married.
Even the word "wife" in the document can be misleading. Ben Witherington III, a professor at Asbury Seminary, told the media that Gnostic texts of the second, third and fourth centuries used "the language of intimacy to talk about spiritual relationships."
"What we hear from the Gnostic is this practice called the sister-wife texts, where they carried around a female believer with them who cooks for them and cleans for them and does the usual domestic chores, but they have no sexual relationship whatsoever" during the strong monastic periods of the third and fourth centuries, Witherington told the Associated Press. "In other words, this is no confirmation of The Da Vinci Code or even of the idea that the Gnostics thought Jesus was married in the normal sense of the word."
Still, sloppy newspaper headlines and wild speculation have put the issue of Jesus' marital status back in the news. Of course, this topic was the buzz several years ago when Dan Brown's fictional work The DaVinci Code gained notoriety. In 2006, Garry Poole and I wrote a rebuttal, called Exploring the DaVinci Code, which refuted Brown's claims.
At the time, I interviewed Katherine McReynolds, who earned her doctorate in religion and social ethics at the University of Southern California, has been a faculty member at the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University and co-authored the book Women as Christ's Disciples, in which she and A. Boyd Luter analyze historical information about Mary Magdalene, the woman Brown claimed was married to Jesus.
I said to McReynolds: "Dan Brown says that the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is part of the historical record, and that the biggest cover-up in human history is that he fathered a child through her. Do you believe there is credible historical evidence that Jesus and Mary Magdalene really were married?"
"There is not a shred of credible evidence at all," she replied. "Not in the four Gospels, not in Paul's writings. And Paul even writes about marriage. If Jesus were married, you would certainly think that Paul would at least mention it since he addresses marriage in the book of 1 Corinthians."
In 1 Corinthians 9:5, Paul was defending the right to have a wife: "Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles, and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas [Peter]?" The clear implication is if Jesus had been married, Paul would have undoubtedly cited him as the prime example: "If the Master was married, then we can be too." But the silence speaks volumes.
Keep in mind that Paul's first letter to the Corinthians was written within about twenty-five years of Jesus' death. The other Gospels - again, which never mention a spouse of Jesus - were all composed in the first century. Their proximity to the events they describe amplifies their reliability, unlike something written hundreds of years later.
Even the Gnostic writings cited by Brown, such as the Gospel of Mary (second century) and the Gospel of Philip (second or third century), don't actually say Jesus was married. Scholar Craig Evans of Acadia University told me that although Brown and author Michael Baigent tried to use those writings to make their case for Jesus' marriage, "they utterly fail. Those texts are not only unhistorical, but even they don't say [Jesus and Mary Magdalene] were married. Only the truly gullible - or those advancing their own theological agenda - buy into that."
Even though there's no reliable evidence Jesus had a wife, scholars have varying opinions about whether it would pose any theological problem if somehow we discovered he had been married. Historian Paul Maier told me:
"I don't think there is anything wrong with the concept of Jesus being married. Marriage, after all, was invented by God. The problem is this: One of the functions of marriage is to produce children, and that leads to a theological problem. Can't you see Jesus talking to his oldest son, saying, ‘Well, Samuel, you are only one-quarter God and three-quarters man, and your son, Jacob, in turn, is only going to be one-eighth God.' We'd have a terrible theological problem. So I think it's much better that Jesus didn't get married. And he did not."
McReynolds does believe it would make a theological difference if Jesus had been married. "It's not that there is anything wrong or sinful with the idea of marriage," she told me. "The point is that Jesus had a special mission - a very unique mission - as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, and he stands in a long tradition of prophets that were set aside by special vows to God. And so I think it does make a theological difference that he remained single and totally devoted to his mission."
I said: "So, you're saying that he was in a line of tradition where people would consecrate themselves to God or have a vow of chastity so that their lives would be focused only on God and his mission for them here in earth?"
"Absolutely," she said. "He definitely stands in that tradition, much like John the Baptist."
I asked, "What about Dan Brown's assertion that a rabbi in the first century would never be single and, therefore, Jesus must have been married?"
"Well, that doesn't hold much weight because in the community of saints in the first century, you had many rabbis and Jewish teachers who were not married. It was not required that they marry. In fact, there is quite a bit of evidence that there were many rabbis who weren't married."
So while the discovery of the Egyptian papyrus is undoubtedly interesting, it is far from being a "smoking gun" that Jesus had a wife. Again, even the scholar who announced the discovery has repeatedly emphasized that. The earliest and most reliable documents we possess about Jesus - including the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as the writings of Paul - never suggest Jesus had been married, which certainly was a detail you would expect them to mention if it were true.
Source: Lee Strobel, 'Investigating Faith' newsletter
by Prof. Dr. Timothy Paul Jones
This week, this embarrassing aspect of human nature has been on full display once again on television screens and news headlines. A scholar from Harvard University has presented a fragment of papyrus, allegedly copied about three centuries after the days when Jesus walked on the earth, that includes this clause: "Jesus said to them, 'My wife.'" The news media reacted as if the five Coptic words underlying this clause had suddenly reset the entire field of biblical studies.
Public Radio International suggested that this fragment might "challenge hundreds of years of religious belief" by re-igniting "a centuries-old debate about the role of women in the Christian faith." (Never mind that the fragment tells us little, if anything, about the role of women in Christian faith or that this debate isn't exactly in need of re-ignition - it's remained fairly well-ignited for a long time.) According to Bloomberg Business Week, "evidence pointing to whether Jesus was married or had a female disciple could have ripple effects in current debates over the role of women." (Never mind that the New Testament is filled with examples of female disciples and that their existence has never been in question.) The Washington Post claimed the papyrus had renewed debates "about scholarship focused on Jesus's marital status and the veracity of early church documents." (What the text has to do with the truthfulness of early Christian texts, I am not sure; what it has to do with the marital status of the historical Jesus is, as it turns out, practically nothing.)
Dr. Karen King - the scholar presenting this fragment at International Congress on Coptic Studies - did admit, to her credit, that the fragment "does not … provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married." At the same time, her decision to name the fragment "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife" didn't exactly lend itself to reasonable discussion and consideration.
Other scholars have already raised valid questions about the fragment's authenticity as well as pointing out the irregularities in how the research was publicized. All of this kerfuffle will soon die down, quite possibly with the revelation that the fragment was a forgery in the first place.
And yet, the publicity may have raised a legitimate question or two in the minds of Christians and others - questions such as, "Why do Christians assume that Jesus wasn't married? And would it matter if he was?" With that in mind, let's take a quick look at the earliest historical traditions about the Messiah's marital status.
What Early Christians Had to Say About the Singleness of Jesus
Dr. King has presented the so-called "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" as evidence that arguments over the singleness of Jesus were a pressing issue among second-century Christians. The fragment provides "direct evidence," according to King, "that claims about Jesus' marital status first arose over a century after the death of Jesus in the context of intra-Christian controversies over sexuality, marriage, and discipleship." In other words, second-century Christians were arguing about issues related to sex and marriage. In the midst of these arguments, some Christians claimed Jesus was married while others said he wasn't.
Looking at the second- and third-century sources, I'm not so sure. In the first place, while certainly possible, it's far from certain whether the fourth-century fragment known as The Gospel of Jesus's Wife was translated from any second-century text. Furthermore, Coptic texts of this sort did not emerge in the context of "intra-Christian controversies" but from breakaway Gnostic sects, groups that had rejected the witness of the apostolic eyewitnesses. The primary concern of the Gnostics would not have been whether Jesus was actually married but how they might portray Jesus in a way that would illustrate their own myths and rituals.
Yet what of the earliest Christian mentions of Jesus and marriage? Do they suggest intense "intra-Christian controversies" that resulted in competing "claims about Jesus' marital status"?
In fact, in the first Christian references to Jesus' marital status, I find no hint of competing claims about whether Jesus was married or single.
The earliest Christian writer to refer explicitly to the singleness of Jesus seems to have been Clement of Alexandria. Clement was a theologian who began teaching in Alexandria around A.D. 180. In the closing years of the second century, Clement wrote against false teachers who had declared marriage taboo; these false teachers had claimed that "marriage is the same as sexual immorality." While arguing against these heretics, Clement commented that Jesus "did not marry" (Stromata 3:6:49).
About the time that Clement was writing against false teachers who regarded marriage as immoral, a lawyer named Tertullian became a Christian and quickly turned his rhetorical skills toward defending the Christian faith. In a treatise urging monogamy, Tertullian of Carthage mentioned that Jesus, a lifelong celibate, had made God's kingdom accessible to those who - like Jesus - never engaged in sexual relations ("… ipso domino spadonibus aperiente regna caelorum ut, et ipso spadone, quem spectans et apostolus…," De Monogamia 3). Later in the same treatise, Tertullian termed Jesus "entirely unmarried" and "voluntarily celibate in flesh" ("innuptus in totum…spado occurrit in carne," 5).
What is noteworthy in all of these references is the fact that neither author feels compelled to defend the singleness of Jesus. Both Clement and Tertullian, in treatises focused on other subjects, mention this status in an offhanded manner, as if both they and their readers assume the singleness of Jesus.
What About Jesus and Mary?
The only potential evidences of alternative perspectives on Jesus' marital status turn out to provide little, if any, real evidence at all. The Gospel of Mary - a text that probably originated in a Gnostic context around the time of Tertullian, long after every eyewitness of Jesus had passed away - merely mentions that Jesus "loved [Mary] more" than he loved other women (10).
The Gospel of Philip seems to have been written a little later, in the first half of the third century. The Gospel of Philip describes a secret "bridal chamber" initiation ritual by which spiritual mysteries were passed from one person to another in a Gnostic sect known as the Valentinians (The Gospel of Philip 67). As such, much of the language in the book is symbolic in the first place. According to this text, Jesus "was kissing" Mary Magdalene (63-64). A small hole appears in the manuscript after the word translated "kissing." As such, it's impossible to know where or how Jesus supposedly kissed Mary. In a culture where kissing served as a common greeting (Acts 20:37; Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14), kissing would have suggested close friendship - not necessarily or even primarily a marital connection. The Gospel of Philip also calls Mary Magdalene the "companion" with whom Jesus was "joined" (59). The term translated "companion" is a Coptic derivative of the Greek word koinonos. In Greek, this word denoted a fellow participant in a shared goal, but not necessarily a spouse or sexual partner. Paul had koinonos connections with Titus, Philemon, and the entire church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:7; 8:23; Philemon 1:17), and Simon Peter called himself a koinonos in God's glory (1 Peter 5:1). (For further examples of the functions of koinonos in the New Testament, see Matthew 23:30; Luke 5:10; 1 Corinthians 10:18, 20; Hebrews 10:33; and, 2 Peter 1:4.)
Most important of all, texts such as The Gospel of Mary and The Gospel of Philip - and most likely The Gospel of Jesus's Wife, if the fragment happens not to be a forgery - originated among Gnostic sects that were far more concerned with describing arcane myths and rituals than with preserving any historical information about Jesus.
"The Lord…Already Had a Bride"
Despite multiple media melees over the past few years that have implied otherwise, there is simply no reliable historical evidence to support the supposition that Jesus was married. The earliest references to Jesus' marital status assume his singleness, and the writers seem unaware that anyone might think otherwise. Implications that Jesus was married originate in historically-suspect sources, written more than a century after Jesus walked the earth.
There is, I would add, one more historical hint that Jesus was single. This evidence dates even earlier than the writings of Clement and Tertullian. The evidence simply this: The consistent testimony from the first century forward was that the church was to be considered the bride of Christ. The apostle Paul made this point in the mid-first century (Ephesians 5:24-33). In his description of the end of the age, the apostle John likewise depicted the church as the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2). In the earliest surviving Christian sermon - preached in the early-to-mid-second century - the pastor proclaimed, "'God made man male and female.' The male is Christ, and the female is the church" (2 Clement). Clement of Alexandria himself gave this as the primary reason for Jesus' lifelong virginity: "The Lord…already had a bride, the church" - and these are only a few of many such references from the first centuries of Christian faith.
So what do all these metaphors have to do with the marital status of the historical Jesus?
I suggest that, if Jesus had been married, these references to the church as his
bride would have - at the very least - required some further explanation.
Perhaps a reference to his "spiritual bride" and his "earthly bride," or some
other shade of distinction offered to distinguish the church's relationship to
Jesus. Yet these statements, some of which can be traced back to eyewitnesses of
the life of Jesus, seem to be made with the assumption that the church is
Christ's bride and he has no other, whether spiritual or terrestrial. This is
admittedly a suggestion from silence, but - given the consistent metaphorical
references to the bride of Christ - the silence regarding any earthly marriage
Several years ago, The Da Vinci Codebreaker - a book I cowrote with my friend Jim Garlow - hit the bestseller lists about the same time that Sony Pictures released the movie The Da Vinci Code. As a result, dozens of television and radio stations interviewed one or both of us in the space of a few weeks. At some point during that flurry of interviews, one interviewer asked me, "Why are you so against the idea that Jesus was married?"
"I'm not," I replied after a second or two of reflection. "If I woke up tomorrow morning and saw that archaeologists had exhumed incontrovertible evidence that Jesus was married, it wouldn't destroy my faith. Jesus would still be the risen Lord. But, as I examine the historical evidence, I find absolutely no substantial evidence to suggest that Jesus was married. And I find even less evidence of some sort of church-wide cover-up. I'm not against the idea that Jesus was married. What I'm against is the weak historical basis of such a supposition."
The idea of a married Messiah wasn't rejected among the earliest Christians because such a revelation would cause the Christian faith to fall apart - it might cause theologians to rethink the way they frame some doctrines, but no essential belief in the Christian faith is dependent on the singleness of Jesus. A married Jesus wasn't rejected because early Christians wanted to downgrade human sexuality - with few exceptions, they didn't. The marriage of Jesus didn't become part of the church's story of Jesus for a single reason: In all the eyewitness testimonies to the life of Jesus and later reflections on his life, no reliable proof exists for such a marriage. The announcement of a so-called "Gospel of Jesus's Wife" has done nothing to change that fact.
About The Author:
Timothy Paul Jones serves as professor of leadership and associate vice president for online learning at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Jones has been widely recognized as a leading writer and researcher in the fields of apologetics, Christian education, and family ministry. He has authored or contributed to more than a dozen books, including Misquoting Truth, Trained in the Fear of God, and the CBA bestseller The Da Vinci Codebreaker.
Source: Christianity.com Daily Update
by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
The whole world changed on Tuesday. At least, that is what many would have us to believe. Smithsonian magazine, published by the Smithsonian Institution, declares that the news released Tuesday was "apt to send jolts through the world of biblical scholarship - and beyond." Really?
What was this news? Professor Karen King of the Harvard Divinity School announced at a conference in Rome that she had identified an ancient papyrus fragment that includes the phrase, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife.'" Within hours, headlines around the world advertised the announcement with headlines like "Ancient Papyrus Could Be Evidence that Jesus Had a Wife" (The Telegraph).
The Smithsonian article states that "the announcement at an academic conference in Rome is sure to send shock waves through the Christian world." The magazine's breathless enthusiasm for the news about the papyrus probably has more to do with advertising its upcoming television documentary than anything else, but the nation's most prestigious museum can only injure its reputation with this kind of sensationalism.
A Fragment of a Text, an Even More Fragmentary Argument
What Karen King revealed on Tuesday was a tiny papyrus fragment with Coptic script on both sides. On one side the fragment includes about 30 words on eight fragmentary lines of script. The New York Times described the fragment as "smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass." The lines are all fragmentary, with the third line reading "deny. Mary is worthy of it," and the next reading "Jesus said to them, 'My wife.'" The fifth states, "she will be able to be my disciple."
The papyrus fragment, believed to be from the fourth century, was delivered to Professor King by an anonymous source who secured the artifact from a German-American dealer, who had bought it years ago from a source in East Germany. As news reports made clear, the fragment is believed by many to be an authentic text from the fourth century, though two of three authorities originally consulted by the editors of the Harvard Theological Review expressed doubts. Such a find would be interesting, to be sure, but hardly worthy of the international headlines.
The little piece of ancient papyrus with its fragmentary lines of text is now, in the hands of the media, transformed into proof that Jesus had a wife, and that she was most likely Mary Magdalene. Professor King will bear personal responsibility for most of this over-reaching. She has called the fragment nothing less than "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" - a title The Boston Globe rightly deemed "provocative." That same paper reported that Professor King decided to publicize her findings before additional tests could verify the fragment's authenticity because she "feared word could leak out about its existence in a way that sensationalized its meaning." Seriously? King was so concerned about avoiding sensationalism that she titled the fragment "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife?"
This is sensationalism masquerading as scholarship. One British newspaper notes that the claims about a married Jesus seem more worthy of fans of Dan Brown's fictional work, The Da Vinci Code, than "real-life Harvard professors." If the fragment is authenticated, the existence of this little document will be of interest to historians of the era, but it is insanity to make the claims now running through the media.
Professor King claims that these few words and phrases should be understood as presenting a different story of Jesus, a different gospel. She then argues that the words should be read as claiming that Jesus was married, that Mary Magdalene was likely his wife. She argues further that, while this document provides evidence of Jesus' marital status, the phrases do not necessarily mean he was married. More than anything else, she argues against the claim that Christianity is a unified body of commonly-held truths.
Those familiar with Karen King's research and writings will recognize the argument. Her 2003 book, The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle, argued that another text from the era presented Mary Magdalene as the very model for apostleship.
A Preference for Heterodoxy
The thread that ties all these texts and arguments together is the 1945 discovery of some 52 ancient texts near the town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt. These texts are known to scholars as Gnostic literature. The texts present heretical narratives and claims about Jesus and his message, and they have been a treasure trove for those seeking to replace orthodox Christianity with something different.
Several ambitions drive this effort. Feminists have sought to use the Nag Hammadi texts to argue that women have been sidelined by the orthodox tradition, and that these Gnostic texts prove that women were central to the leadership of the early church, perhaps even superior to the men. Others have used the Nag Hammadi texts to argue that Christianity was diverse movement marked by few doctrinal concerns until it was hijacked by political and ecclesiastical leaders, who constructed theological orthodoxy as a way of establishing churchly power in the Roman Empire and then stifling dissent. Still others argue that Christianity's moral prohibitions concerning sexuality, and especially homosexuality, were part of this forced orthodoxy which, they argue, was not the essence of true Christianity. More than anything else, many have used the Nag Hammadi texts as leverage for their argument that Christianity was originally a way of spirituality centered in the teachings of a merely human Christ - not a message of salvation through faith in a divine Jesus who saves sinners through the atonement he accomplished in his death and resurrection.
Professor King, along with Princeton's Elaine Pagels, has argued that the politically powerful leaders who established what became orthodox Christianity silenced other voices, but that these voices now speak through the Nag Hammadi texts and other Gnostic writings. Writing together, King and Pagels argue that "the traditional history of Christianity is written almost solely from the viewpoint of the side that won, which was remarkably successful in silencing or distorting other voices, destroying their writings, and suppressing any who disagreed with them as dangerous and obstinate 'heretics.'"
King and Pagels both reject traditional Christianity, and they clearly prefer the voices of the heretics. They argue for the superiority of heterodoxy over orthodoxy. In the Smithsonian article, King's scholarship is described as "a kind of sustained critique of what she called the 'master story' of Christianity: a narrative that casts the canonical texts of the New Testament as a divine revelation that passed through Jesus in 'an unbroken chain' to the apostles and their successors - church fathers, ministers, priests and bishops who carried these truths into the present day."
King actually argues against the use of terms like "heresy" and even "Gnostic," claiming that the very use of these terms gives power to the forces of orthodoxy and normative Christianity. Nevertheless, she cannot avoid using the terms herself (even in the titles of her own books). She told Ariel Sabar of Smithsonian, "You're talking to someone who's trying to integrate a whole set of 'heretical' literature into the standard history."
Orthodoxy and Heresy: The Continual Struggle
Those who use Gnostic texts like those found at Nag Hammadi attempt to redefine Christianity so that classic, biblical, orthodox Christianity is replaced with a very different religion. The Gnostic texts reduce Jesus to the status of a worldly teacher who instructs his followers to look within themselves for the truth. These texts promise salvation through enlightenment, not through faith and repentance. Their Jesus is not the fully human and fully divine Savior and there is no bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Were these writings found at Nag Hammadi evidence of the fact that the early church opposed and attempted to eliminate what it understood to be false teachings? Of course. That is what the church said it was doing and what the Apostles called upon the church to do. The believing church did not see heresy as an irritation - it saw heterodoxy as spiritual death. Those arguing for the superiority of the Gnostic texts deny the divine inspiration of the New Testament and prefer the heterodox teachings of the Gnostic heretics. Hauntingly, the worldview of the ancient Gnostics is very similar, in many respects, to various worldviews and spiritualities around us today.
The energy behind all this is directed to the replacement of orthodox Christianity, its truth claims, its doctrines, its moral convictions, and its vision of both history and eternity with a secularized - indeed, Gnositicized - new version.
Just look at the attention this tiny fragment of papyrus has garnered. Its few words and broken phrases are supposed to cast doubt on the New Testament and the doctrines of orthodox Christianity. A tiny little fragment which, even if authentically from the fourth century, is placed over against the four New Testament Gospels, all written within decades of Jesus' earthy ministry.
"The Gospel of Jesus' Wife?" Not hardly. This is sensationalism masquerading as scholarship. Nevertheless, do not miss what all this really represents - an effort to replace biblical Christianity with an entirely new faith.
by Sabu Jacob, Philadelphia
On Friday, September 28, 2012 HH Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas will inaugurate the Arabian Gulf Chapter of the SEUSOMM. The program will take place during an apostolic visit of the Holy Father to inaugurate the 40th year of establishment of St. George Reesh Parish and the Silver Jubilee Celebration of Mor Baselios Youth Association in Kuwait. His Beatitude the Catholicose Mor Baselios Thomas I; Mor Gregorios Joseph, The Secretary to holy Synod of Malankara; Mor Theophilis George Saliba, Secretary to the Holy Universal Synod; Mor Philexinos Mathias Nayis, Patriarchal Assistant; an Apostolic Delegation from Lebanon; Rev. Fr. Babu Peringol, Secretary General of SEUSOMM and other dignitaries are expected to be present in the function.
by Oswald Chambers
Jesus Christ is saying here, "Don't rejoice in your successful service for Me, but rejoice because of your right relationship with Me." The trap you may fall into in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service - rejoicing in the fact that God has used you. Yet you will never be able to measure fully what God will do through you if you have a right-standing relationship with Jesus Christ. If you keep your relationship right with Him, then regardless of your circumstances or whoever you encounter each day, He will continue to pour "rivers of living water" through you (John 7:38). And it is actually by His mercy that He does not let you know it.
Once you have the right relationship with God through salvation and sanctification, remember that whatever your circumstances may be, you have been placed in them by God. And God uses the reaction of your life to your circumstances to fulfill His purpose, as long as you continue to "walk in the light as He is in the light" (1 John 1:7).
Our tendency today is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make their request for help on the basis of someone's usefulness. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure who ever lived. For the saint, direction and guidance come from God Himself, not some measure of that saint's usefulness.
It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. All that our Lord gives His attention to in a person's life is that person's relationship with God - something of great value to His Father. Jesus is "bringing many sons to glory . . ." (Hebrews 2:10).
by Robert Ringer
There are two basic kinds of actions. One is pro-action, which puts you on the offensive and gives you a great deal of control over events. The other is reaction, which puts you on the defensive and relegates you to an inherent position of weakness.
An interesting way of looking at inaction is that it's really just a negative form of action, a sort of black hole that sucks energy away from you much the same as the black holes of the universe pull matter into the deep recesses of their cosmic bowels. This is why inaction often yields consequences by default. If you wait for something, or someone, to act on you, you likely will be unable to control the consequences.
Homeostasis, a trait that all human beings possess to one extent or another is (in psychological terms) the tendency to live with existing conditions and avoid change. Which is ironic, because resistance to change defies both the laws of nature and the laws of the universe.
The earth, the universe, and life itself are in a perpetual state of change, and so, too, is secular life. Weather changes, laws change, the economy changes, the reigns of power change, technology changes, and, perhaps most significant of all, your age changes every second of your life. In addition, with the generation and dying of cells in our bodies, each of us is in a constant state of change physiologically, from birth to death.
Homeostasis is the ultimate defense against taking action, which is why most people stubbornly resist change, particularly major change. Outwardly, of course, we fabricate excuses that attempt to justify why we aren't able to take action just yet, the most common one being that "the time is not quite right."
Someday, we insist, when all the pieces of our lives fit perfectly together, we'll be in a better position to take action: change occupations, go back to college and get an engineering degree, start a business, work on that big project we've thought about for years, move to the city of our dreams, or begin writing the novel that we've always believed would be a best seller.
The self-delusion of trying to disguise procrastination as a responsible attitude that is just waiting for the "right" time brings to mind a fascinating essay titled The Station, wherein the unknown author metaphorically describes all of us as being on a mythical train of life, rolling relentlessly down the tracks toward the future.
As we travel on this train of life, we keep believing that just around the next bend we're going to arrive at The Station, a beautiful little red station house that will signify the panacea moment when all the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.
When we arrive at The Station, there will be a big crowd cheering, flags will be waving, bands will be playing, and that's when all our troubles will vanish and we can finally take action.
There's only one problem with this picture. It's a fantasy – a pure fantasy – because the reality is that there is no station. It doesn't exist! The perfect moment never quite arrives. There's always one more piece of the puzzle that has to fall into place before we're ready to take action.
The truth of the matter is that, with few exceptions, the best day to take action is today. You can make a sales call today. You can start working on that important project today. You can begin to pick up the pieces and start a new life today. The issue isn't about today being the first day of the rest of your life; the real issue is that today could be the last day of the rest of your life.
When people cling to the excuse that the time isn't quite right to move forward with a plan or change of one kind or another – particularly starting a business – it's often because they get caught up in the "how" of the situation. No one is omniscient. No one can foresee every problem and know, in advance, how to resolve it.
The reality is that all start-ups are dysfunctional. What makes a person an entrepreneur is that he has the determination, perseverance, and resourcefulness to overcome the dysfunction of a new enterprise. Paul McCartney put it well when asked in an interview about how the Beatles got started. Said McCartney, "Nobody knows how to do it. You just start a band."
I should also point out that people often fail to take action because they tend to confuse the word hard with impossible. It's not impossible to change occupations right now; just hard. It's not impossible to move to another city right now; just hard. It's not impossible to start a new business right now; just hard.
Hard is the very thing that gives value to an objective. Everything worth accomplishing is hard. If you're waiting for everything to be just right before taking action, you are in possession of a foolproof excuse for failure.
Don't fear change; embrace it as one of the most exciting aspects of life. Think of action as an opportunity to make mistakes, mistakes that give you a front-row seat in the Theater of Learning.
Carlos Castaneda explained perfectly succinctly when he said, "A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting."
Thinking is a good thing to do – but not nearly as good as action.
About The Author:
Robert Ringer is a New York Times #1 bestselling author. His recently released work, 'The Entrepreneur: The Way Back for the U.S. Economy', shows the pathway back to prosperity paved by entrepreneurs. Ringer has appeared on numerous national talk shows and has been the subject of feature articles in such major publications as Time, People, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Barron's, and The New York Times. Visit www.robertringer.com.
How the 'Herbal Martha Stewart' Got Ready for Her Hip Replacement
While they're the place we go for healing, all hospitals have the potential to be a hotbed for contagious infections.
But there are precautionary measures patients can take, both to reduce the need for a hospital stay and to condition the body to ward off infection and minimize pain when surgery is necessary, says Letha Hadady, a nationally-recognized herbal expert and author of Naturally Pain Free, just published by Sourcebooks (www.AsianHealthSecrets.com). Letha has been documenting in real time her recent hip replacement, preparation and recovery, in a video blog on her global website.
"We are fast approaching a time when antibiotics will be outdated because infectious bacteria – Superbugs – have become resistant," she says. "We have to protect ourselves with the gifts of nature that germs cannot adapt to – foods, minerals, herbal remedies and other natural products that build our defenses."
There are 600,000 knee-replacement and 300,000 hip-replacement surgeries performed each year in the United States, a number that has doubled in the past 10 years and continues to grow, Hadady says. As a health expert cited by NBC News, AP Radio, Newsday, the Daily News, the San Francisco Chronicle and Barbara Walters, she says she is concerned about the risks, pain and fear as many people face both major and minor surgeries.
"These surgeries are only going to become more frequent as the baby boomer generation ages. People 50 and older with osteoarthritis are most likely to need hip- and knee-placements," she says. "But plenty of younger people are affected, too. Runners, dancers, tennis players, soldiers – even high school students who suffer sports injuries. It could be you on the operating table!"
Hadady offers these tips to naturally condition the body before surgery:
• Herbal strength:
A few weeks in advance of her operation, Hadady ramped up her intake of herbal supplements. A key herb was Yunnan Paiyao, a traditional medicine used in Chinese hospitals and by their soldiers to prevent excessive bleeding. Other herbs can be taken to help build up resistance to bacteria.
• A calm and focused mind:
Stress increases inflammation and is a burden on internal organs. A calm, centered mind -- attained through techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and mineral baths – can help the body weather the trauma of surgery, she says.
• Knowledge is power:
While researching "Naturally Pain Free," Letha tried alternative treatments for arthritis ranging from traditional Asian remedies to cutting-edge stem cell injections. Before her operation, Hadady asked questions and researched her hospital, doctors, the procedure, and insurance coverage. This allowed her to better prepare for the operation and gave her peace of mind.
• Follow hospital recommendations:
In addition to alternative therapies, it's important to heed the advice of one's doctors, before and after a procedure, she says. With her supplements, Hadady restricted her vitamin C intake, which thins blood, and she received an antibiotic ointment to ward off MRSA -- an antibiotic-resistant superbug that can cause life-threatening infections.
• Diet and exercise:
"This may seem obvious, but it's a message we cannot emphasis enough for overall health," she says. One reason why replacement procedures are so prominent is due to the "sitting lifestyle" so many now have. Muscle atrophy from too much sitting can be a cause for joint-replacement, she says. "Sitting is the new smoking!"
About Letha Hadady
Letha Hadady has been called the "Martha Stewart of herbs" for her expertise in traditional Asian and alternative health. The author of five books, including her latest "Naturally Pain Free," Letha has appeared widely on TV--including CNN, Today, The View — talk radio, and the internet. Letha is an adjunct faculty member for New York Open Center, and The Renfield Center for Nursing Education, Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. ...
1-1/2 cups rice vinegar
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Whisk the vinegar, stock, peanut oil, soy sauce. lime juice, sesame oil and chili oil in a bowl until blended.
Stir in the cilantro, scallions, white pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes and Tabasco sauce.
Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a dish.
Blanch the sugar snap peas in boiling water in a saucepan for 1 to 2 minutes;
How To Serve
Divide the pasta evenly among 8 serving plates.
Yield: Serves 6
Motivate Kids by Teaching Them 'Life is a Business,' Says Non-Profit Founder
Welfare may seem like a charitable measure for struggling families. But it's a self-perpetuating trap when it becomes the only way of life parents know how to teach their children, who then know nothing else to teach their own children, says Virgil Brannon, founder of the non-profit I Am Vision Inc.
"Living on entitlements becomes a way of life for recipients when it's handed down from one generation to the next because the family loses any tools it might have once had to forge a life based on self-discipline, achievement and challenging," says Brannon, author of Democratic Coma (www.DemocraticComa.com).
"It's no different from the child who grow up being given material thing he wants, along with excessive praise that's not deserved. One child may be from a poor family and the other from an affluent family, but both are at risk for growing up without the skills necessary for success."
Brannon's non-profit organization mentors disadvantaged children, helping them develop the values, understanding and knowledge they need to be motivated and equipped to succeed. He has found that coaching children to manage their lives as they would a business helps them not only develop good habits and skills, it also teaches them some essential business lessons:
• Your life is your business:
Our business is how we act, speak, the way we dress, how we treat ourselves and how we treat others. Like any other business, it is expected to grow and prosper and to do that, we must invest in it. Part of that is feeding the mind with the information needed to make good choices.
• The people you meet and the friends you make are your clientele:
Treat all people with the respect you would any customer or potential customer. Our relationships can elevate us if people feel their treated fairly, honestly and with respect.
• The more you provide or produce, the more you advance:
Business involves providing a service or product. Business people do not care about excuses; they care about what you have to offer them. It doesn't matter where you come from or what color you are, if you have something they need – and a reputation for integrity -- they will come to you for it.
• Your appearance means everything:
You must look the part to get the part. The secret is to look as though you already have it to obtain what you want.
Parents should teach their children to be business-like and to think like a professional, Brannon says.
"That includes giving them the best education possible, including learning at home about history, civic duty and different cultures," Brannon says. "In business, people are expected to display good manners and to communicate with others, from a firm handshake to looking others in the eye and speaking clearly and correctly.
"That is the most important investment we can make."
About Virgil Brannon
Virgil Brannon is a private investigator and the founder of 'I Am Vision Inc.,' a non-profit program that embraces and empowers youth with academic and leadership challenges. His goal is to promote the personal growth of socio-economically disadvantaged youth and their families by encouraging their dreams and providing members with a roadmap for success. Brannon attended Shepherd's Care Bible College and received his master's and doctoral degrees in ministry religious counseling.
By Yoginder Sikand
He certainly isn't the sort whom most folks would define as even remotely 'successful'. After all, he isn't rich and famous and doesn't have a 'glamorous' job. But, as far as I am concerned, Ramesh, whom I met on a recent trip to Kerala, is definitely among the most amazingly successful people I've ever come across.
Ramesh is an assistant at a centre for mentally retarded people, and that's where I met him. He's 38, and has studied till the 8th grade. He earns a modest salary - six thousand rupees a month - with which he maintains his family. His work - which he's been doing for the last eleven years - is heavy and extremely demanding. It's a 24-hour job, seven days a week, with just two days off every month, when he can visit his wife and child, who live in another town. Ramesh's job at the centre is to take care of an entire family - of six severely mentally retarded men - and that's about as taxing and challenging a job as one can imagine.
Ramesh's day begins at 5 in the morning, which is when some of the members of his 'family' are already awake and need to relieve themselves. Almost none of them can do that on their own, and so it's Ramesh who has to clean them - with his bare hands - after they've been to the toilet. Then, he has to brush their teeth, give them a bath and change their clothes. After that, he makes tea for them, sweeps and mops their rooms, prepares and serves them breakfast, and helps the men get ready for their day's work at the workshop. Being severely disabled, mentally as well as physically, the men cannot really do much work there, but being in the workshop for much of the day keeps them occupied. When they are away, Ramesh cleans the cow-shed, milks the cows and works in the vegetable garden. In the evenings, he comes back to the home, changes the men's clothes, prepares and serves dinner and then gets them ready to sleep. By 10 o'clock the men are in their beds, and that's when Ramesh can retire but he doesn't get uninterrupted sleep because, inevitably, one or more of the men gets up during the night and demands attention. Weekends are even more hectic for Ramesh, because then the men are at home all day and need almost constant care.
I spent two days with Ramesh and his 'family', and, honestly, I don't think I could have stayed much longer. I simply don't have any of Ramesh's grit, determination and compassion, which have kept him on in his job for the last eleven years. Those two days I was with him were enough to shatter the delusions I harboured about myself as supposedly being a seriously committed social activist. I don't think I, or most other folks for that matter (including those generally projected as 'amazingly successful achievers'), could have managed even a week doing what he does - taking care of six men most of whom cannot speak a word; who live in a house that smells of shit and urine; who need to be washed by someone else after they've been to the loo; who urinate and excrete in their clothes and need to be cleaned every time they do so; who sometimes beat and bite and holler at the person who helps them; who dribble and drool and make a terrible mess when they eat, and some of whom are so unaware of themselves that they sometimes even eat their own excrement.
But that's what Ramesh has been doing for more than a decade, and I didn't hear even a whimper of a complaint from him about the men he's adopted as his family. Yes, he did say he wished he had someone to assist him and a few more days off every month, but - and you have to believe me - he had only wonderful things to say about the men he lived with and so lovingly served. 'They are God's children, so innocent and trusting and loving, like little, helpless babies,' he said to me. 'I see God in them, and, over the years, I've come to love them dearly.' I could see that love in every action of Ramesh's - whether he was singing a song for the men in the evenings, hugging them and taking them on piggy-back rides, repairing their clothes, washing a lump of excrement that someone had deposited on the drawing room floor, taking one of them by the hand to the nearby clinic, clearing shit stains from the walls or scrubbing the toilets. I'd never ever seen such compassion in action before, such spontaneous concern and care without any expectation of reward.
Meeting Ramesh, I now know that I'm really not even remotely as altruistic as I once fancied I was. And I know, too, that if I now have to make a short list of the most amazingly successful people I've met so far, Ramesh would certainly be near about the top.
A man who had been called to testify at the Income Tax Department asked his accountant for advice on what to wear. "Wear your shabbiest clothing. Let him think you are a pauper," the accountant replied.
Then he asked his lawyer the same question, but got the opposite advice. "Don't let them intimidate you. Wear your most elegant suit and tie."
Confused, the man went to his priest, told him of the conflicting advice, and requested some resolution on the dilemma.
"Let me tell you a story," replied the priest. "A woman, about to be married, asked her mother what to wear on her wedding night. 'Wear a heavy, long, flannel nightgown that goes right up to your neck.'
But when she asked her best friend, she got conflicting advice. 'Wear your most revealing negligee, a nice V-neck.' "
Confused, the man asked, "What does all this have to do with my problem with the Income Tax Department?"
"Simple," replied the Priest. "It doesn't matter what you wear, you're gonna get screwed."
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